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Internationalization Orientation in SMEs: The Mediating Role of Technological Innovation

Mahshid Bagheri, Siwan Mitchelmore, Vassiliki Bamiatzi and Konstantinos Nikolopoulos

Journal of International Management, 2019, vol. 25, issue 1, 121-139

Abstract: This study examines the relationship between internationalization orientation and international performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the mediating effect of technological innovation. Prior research suggests that internationalization is a prominent strategic choice for SMEs growth and profitability. However, there is still no explicit agreement on how internationalization affects international performance. Similarly, the role of innovation on performance has long been emphasized, but the implications of technological innovation on international performance are still eluding us. Our investigation of 116 SMEs in the United Kingdom reveals that internationalization orientation has a significant effect on their international performance, with SMEs adopting simultaneously an inward and outward international orientation achieving superior results. We further demonstrate that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between technological innovation and international firm performance among SMEs. Meanwhile, we find that technological innovation positively mediates the effect of internationalization orientation on international firm performance, particularly for the SMEs exhibiting moderate levels of technological innovation activities. The findings of this study suggest that managers can improve international performance by combining inward and outward internationalization orientation with technological innovation activities in their strategic decisions.

Keywords: SME internationalization; International orientation; Technological innovation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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